Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Good-Bye, Regular Banks? Hello, NetSpend? Not So Fast.

The Russell family of Kirkland, Wash., makes about $230,000 with Charles Russell, 43 years old, working as a systems analyst for Microsoft Corp. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, that puts them among the top 5% of American households.

But their affluence might not be apparent based on the way Mr. Russell conducts his personal finances. He has no bank account, having dumped it due to irritation over fees and overdraft penalties. Instead, for more everyday transactions he uses a debit-card offered by NetSpend Holdings Inc. NTSP -1.40%
"I have no need, desire or want to go to a regular bank," says Mr. Russell, who adds that a savings feature on the card offers a competitive interest rate.

-from today's WSJ article "Footnote to Financial Crisis: More People Shun the Bank,"

Read about the NetSpend approach here.  The details I read at the link indicate that there are fees involved in using this approach.  There are charges for overdraft protection even with NetSpend.  Overdrafting one's account is a rather serious lapse anyway.  That should be for free?

Furthermore, we pay no services charges on our checking account at Wells Fargo.  There is no ATM charge, if we use a Wells Fargo ATM, of which there are many around.  The only charge we have is when we buy new checks.  We don't do overdrafts, so I'm not familiar with the "penalty."

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